A Taste of Feed
|It's almost Halloween, And the Torquere crew banded together to make a special treat for you!|
I've been joking about my Vampires! In Space! But Colonel Adran Wir Strauta,
military observer, isn't a traditional vampire. He suspects his food
was murdered, leaving him vulnerable to attack. What he needs are
answers and blood.
A Taste of Feed
There was no night or day in space. There was only the watch or off-duty.
During his training, that fact had been drummed into Private First
Class EzekielTahmin ’s mind, yet his body insisted it was night. He
yawned long and hard, his eyes squeezing shut as he did so. He swore he
smelled summer – verdant grass and sun-warmed honey. A dream tried to
pull him into sleep. There was nothing specific about the half-glimpsed
visions in his brain, just a feeling of comfort and pleasant promises
if he’d only sink deeper under the spell. He fought to open his eyes.
The dream pulled harder. His arm slipped from his lap and touched the
cold metal arm of his chair. That jolted him back to wakefulness. The
scent of honey and grass was gone.
Slow night, Zeke thought before correcting his down-planet thinking. Not night. Third watch. It was third watch. He couldn’t sleep on duty. The punishment for that was flogging, and he’d seen enough flogged soldiers to want to avoid it. He reached for his cup ofstim. It was cold and bitter, but he gulped it down anyway.
Except Zeke, the medical bay was empty. There were other medical personnel on
duty, but they were in the quarters across the gangway playing cards
and watchingvids. Third watch officers were more lax about discipline, but they wouldn’t forgive him if their superiors pulled a surprise inspection and caught him asleep at his desk.
Zeke rubbed the goose flesh on his arms through his jacket. When he was not
doing data entry, he held his hands near the bulb of his desk lamp or
blew on them. Hedidn ’t need to turn around to know that ice crystals
formed on metal bulkhead behind his small desk. That wall was all that
separated the medical bay from the chilly morgue, and the cold seeped
The skin on Zeke’s back tightened at the thought of the morgue. While the beds in the medical bay were empty, the morgue wasn’t. One drawer held a body. Gossip had been strangely muted about the alien who died during first watch. The only thing Zeke knew was that the deceased had been the aide of a military observer on board. He’d never
seen the observer or his aide, dead or alive.
Zeke leaned closer to the computer as he scanned the forms on his screen. The duty logs were incomplete. Even though it was against regulations for him to fill
out the forms for his superiors, if hedidn’t, they would make his life hell.
Although what’s more hellish than babysitting the morgue in the middle of the night? Zeke thought.
Motion sensors made the lights in the bay flicker on when Zeke scratched his
scalp through the stubble of his hair. The buzzed haircut made his gray
eyes look too big for his thin face, but his thick, ginger hair was
growing back. As he returned to the logs, the lights slowly dimmed
until he was left with the glow of his screen and his small desk lamp
The medical bay was near engineering. While the steady thrum of the ship’s engines could be felt anywhere on board, they could only be heard below decks. Even there, it was almost sub-audible. Other than the clack of his keyboard, the bass rumble of
the ship’s engines was the only sound in the medical bay.
The short hairs at the nape of Zeke’s neck rose, as if trying to sense
something behind him. He knew the bulkhead was only a few feet away,
but he slowly turned to look. Nothing was there. With every nerve in
his body alert, he listened intently for the sound to repeat. Itdidn’t. Finally, his muscles relaxed.
The lights in the bay flickered on. There was a faint crunch, like a boot stealthily creeping over gravel.
Zeke jumped out of his chair and pressed his back to the bulwark. “Who’s there?”
Available through Torquere Press on October 31.